I am learning how to run. Again. I have a treadmill that sits in the office alongside a punch bag and some weights and more than ever during this time of lockdown, I have made the time to exercise every day. It gives me freedom, it gives me space, it’s a great way to start the day and as a menopausal, closer to 50 than 40, somewhat heavier than a healthy person should be type of person, I like to think that every minute on the treadmill or lifting a weight is buying me a little bit more time.
This journey of exercising and trying to build healthy habits isn’t a new one. Strangely I have found the advent of Facebook memories quite telling in spelling out to me just how long this journey to fitness and health has been going on. At the last count, it probably started 14 years ago when I was in my mid 30s and needed to access fertility treatment.
I was heavy then, too heavy to be deemed fit for the treatment I so desperately wanted and it only took one look from the fertility nurse and one line in the follow up letter to give me the impetus I needed to get fitter and lose the weight. I like a challenge. In fact I thrive on a challenge so I made a call that day to a personal trainer, made a commitment to turn up, ate better, showed up 3 times a week at the gym, sweated, cried, moved, sweated a bit more and when I rocked up at the clinic a little less than 3 months later, I was transformed. Not entirely you understand, it had only been 3 months, but the target I had set myself which was to be the right weight for treatment was one that I achieved. High five. HIGH FIVE !!
The years that followed happily contained two healthy pregnancies, a weight gain of around 5 stone, a weight loss of about the same and since then there has been a journey through training and completing 2 night time marathon walks, online yoga, weekend workshop yoga, class based yoga, pilates, walking, boxing, weights, more walking, occasional bouts of running, cycling and a few gyms. When I say gyms, what I really mean is gym membership.
At one time I would do my best exercise when I travelled to the gym, when I put my best kit on, when I did that great class, when I got that new pair of trainers, the perfect playlist, the best person to have that long walk with. I waited until the conditions were perfect so that I could have the perfect workout. Whatever that is. It won’t be a great surprise to know that the perfect opportunities didn’t arise as often as might have been useful.
Fast forward to now, happy middle age is here and I’m still working at getting fitter and healthier. I am still bigger than is healthy and I am still working on it. It being working on getting smaller, fitter, more mentally agile, stronger boned, more toned and carrying less weight. I have had a personal trainer for the last couple of years to help me work my way healthily through peri menopause, to give my workouts some structure, to avoid aggravating the odd aches and pains and to give me a motivational boot up the backside to keep going.
I don’t have any particular burning platform that means I NEED to do anything RIGHT NOW to improve my health and fitness. I don’t need to access treatment, I haven’t been advised to lose weight by a medical professional and I don’t feel unhappy with my lot. I just have a generalised need, a desire, the knowledge that the statistics would suggest that my chances of illness from cancer, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis are much higher unless I get fitter and lose weight.
So what’s the point of writing this? well, its simple. The point is going back to the starting point. Consistency beats perfection. Somehow, after the years of trying so hard to make this a habit, I now exercise every day. The fear we are all living with has finally clicked a switch in my brain so although I can’t control whether or when I get ill, I can help myself to improve my outcomes. Less anxiety, less stress, stronger heart and lungs and a sense that I am doing something to help myself. Buying myself some time.
Whether it be 10 minutes, 60 mins, or somewhere in between, I am running, lifting weights, doing yoga, walking, gardening, dancing or kick boxing, every day. I find that my best exercise is done in the early mornings but aside from that there are no rules. I wear whatever scruff I lay my hands on, listening to whatever Spotify throws up, alongside whatever family member happens to be there, doing whatever exercise I feel like doing that day. Its getting to be a habit. Consistently. Every day. Not perfect. Consistent.